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Residents gather at Middletown Church of God in show of solidarity over Charlottesville

By Dan Miller danmiller@pressandjournal.com
Posted 8/17/17

Middletown residents added their voices to the many who have been gathering in cities and towns across the country in response to the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. …

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Residents gather at Middletown Church of God in show of solidarity over Charlottesville

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Middletown residents added their voices to the many who have been gathering in cities and towns across the country in response to the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12.

With torches and candles for lighting as dusk approached, a group of about 20 people gathered to quietly sing and pray Tuesday, Aug. 15, at Middletown Church of God on High Street.

“We just had to step up to the plate and say something,” senior church Pastor Kim Shifler said in opening the event, which began at 8 p.m. “We’re here to mourn the loss of some people who lost their lives through this, we’re here to confess our own sinfulness in racism, we’re here to talk about perhaps ways we can do better.”

A moment of silence was observed to honor the passing of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old Charlottesville woman who was killed when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally. Nineteen other people were injured.

The driver, identified by authorities as 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts.
Shifler also mentioned by name the two Virginia state police officers who were killed in a helicopter crash while responding to the event in Charlottesville, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Pilot Burke M. M. Bates.

She asked that those gathered search their own hearts and confess “those things that have kept us from loving other people, whether it has been because of their political views, whether it’s been because of the color of their skin, whether it’s been because of a clash of personalities — we must begin by confessing our own sin.”

Word of the vigil was spread through Facebook. “Stop the hate, spread the love” read a post that was put on the Middletown Residents United page on Monday, Aug. 14.

Shifler talked of how unfortunate it is that racism continues to plague the nation, more than 150 years after the Civil War.

“You would have thought that it would have ended at some point, but it hasn’t,” she said. “We ask for cleansing, not only of our attitudes in our personal lives, but we ask for cleansing in this United States of America, that this hatred that has gone on for so long can be eradicated, can be done away with, that attitudes can change, that people can be different.”

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